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Texas appeals FEMA denial of over $100M in Imelda assistance

The state of Texas is appealing a denial of more than $100 million in federal disaster funding for public facilities and other infrastructure 8炫彩彩票开户damaged by Tropical Storm Imelda.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott initially requested a presidential disaster declaration for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a half-dozen East Texas counties — including Harris, Montgomery and Jefferson counties — in October 2019 following widespread damage and severe flooding from the storm. That request was approved in October. Texas homeowners and renters have received more than $68 million through that program.

Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd in December 2019 requested asssistance for uninsured losses for public infrastructure but was denied last month. The state will only have one chance to appeal.

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8炫彩彩票开户Imelda dumped more than 40 inches of rain on some parts of the state last year. Thousands of homes — including at least 2,500 in Harris County and 6,000 in Jefferson County — were flooded.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Kidd asked FEMA to reconsider only approving damages of $18 million as opposed to the more than $120 million requested by 10 counties: Chambers, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton and Orange. Of those, Chambers, Hardin, Harris, Jefferson and Orange counties are contesting denials.

8炫彩彩票开户Kidd wrote that the additional funding is “necessary to achieve the goal of long term recovery in Texas.”

“Texans are survivors. Texans are resilient. But, Texans are fatigued,” Kidd wrote. “The constant onslaught of record breaking storms are affecting our first responders, depleting our resources, and causing undue mental and financial stress to our locals.”

8炫彩彩票开户FEMA said Wednesday that it had received the appeal and was working on processing it. The agency said it needs more information from Texas on why the additional federal assistance was needed, including the amount of insurance coverage “that is in force or should have been in force.”

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8炫彩彩票开户Harris County and the city of Houston had requested at least $7 million altogether, including water infrastructure and road repairs and debris clearance. They were approved for about $2.5 million.

8炫彩彩票开户“Between Harvey, Imelda, and the Tax Day floods, our communities have endured three 100-year or 500-year floods over the past four years,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Our residents are resilient, and we’re committing a historic amount of local funds to support them, but we need our federal government to be good partners. Now is not the time for FEMA to nickel and dime Imelda survivors and local communities still recovering.”

Jefferson County requested $16 million but was granted $5.7 million. Auditor Patrick Swain previously said without the FEMA aid, the county has had to resort to using its reserve funds for about $3 million-worth of debris clearance, damage to buildings and other property and overtime emergency operations.

The county and city were depending on the federal funds to cover such costs as damaged lift stations and traffic control boxes, repairs to the Beaumont Public Library where the lower level flooded, and the Beaumont Civic Center where the roof and walls leaked. FEMA said it needs more insurance information to verify higher costs and made reductions based on estimated coverage and also because it had paid to repair some of the same buildings in previous storms.

8炫彩彩票开户“It’s disappointing,” Swain said. “We’ve got our bills paid, but we can’t continue to have these types of storms come through without federal assistance.”

The school district endured damage to multiple buildings, but FEMA said that it was missing insurance information and made additional reductions because the agency had recently paid for disaster-related issues. District officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

8炫彩彩票开户The FEMA funding in dispute is only a portion of assistance the federal government has offered for recovery. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in December announced it had allocated $212 million to Texas to repair homes and businesses damaged by Imelda.

Texans have also been approved for over $76 million in Small Business Association loans, and over $716 million has been paid on claims to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Benjamin Wermund reported from Washington, D.C.; Taylor 8炫彩彩票开户enstein reported from Austin.

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